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39 Days to Basketball - The Purdue Lineup Game - The Starting Five

A loaded bench? An uncertain starting five? The Purdue season is just a month away, it's time to start figuring out where all the pieces fit.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

In an attempt to prepare you for the upcoming season, HammerandRails will give a preview of the combinations you'll see on the court - some serious, some fun, some just what we want to see. There's 13 guys that have legitimate gripes for playing time, and only five spots on the floor at a time. That's a lot of possibilities.

Let's say that Coach Painter is not one to rock his own boat too much. That slicked back hair holds like his stubborn streak. He loves effort and hates quick shooting. He has quite the large doghouse in his back yard and we've seen quite a few players spend the night there. Hammons was placed there in the  beginning of the year last year. Kendall Stephens seemed to have a room booked for him during the middle of the year. Bryson Scott spent so much time there he decided to not come back to Mackey. Painter wasn't afraid to replace these relative veterans in the lineup with true freshman, and keep them there. Vince Edwards might have been our most consistent offensive player, a two-way player capable of stretching bigs at the four or bullying wings at the four. Dakota Mathias is our most creative passer. I've already written about Isaac Haas. This year we've added a Kramer play-a-like, Indiana's Mr. Basketball and the runner-up, and Jacquil Taylor comes back after a medical redshirt in his freshman year.

There's only one real loss from last year's team, and that is Jon Octeus. The fifth-year transfer left a hole behind him of steady leadership, surprising athleticism, consistency, and a control-the-game calm that Purdue hasn't seen at point guard in a long, long time. Any questions about the Boilers all lead back to who fill his shoes. Will it be Johnny Hill? Another long, athletic fifth-year transfer who will be compared to Octeus by every talking head doing a Purdue game, but doesn't have anything close to Octeus's track record as a player who values the security of the ball, or is it the diminutive point guard P. J. Thompson who we last saw air ball a wide open three in the NCAA tournament game? Can either of them offer the shooting needed to clear space for the big men inside, or more importantly allow us to play our defensive-minded wings at the same time?

Because Rapheal Davis is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten and he could be the third best defender on his own team next year. A. J. Hammons has controlled the paint for three years now, and allows Davis to live in his man's pocket without worrying about getting beat to the paint, and Basil Smotherman is a six foot six inch maniac, our best athlete, and good for one pick-six a game.

In Purdue's NCAA tournament loss to Cincinnati - can we please start the season now? I don't want the memory of Edward's just too short shot as my last Purdue  basketball memory - Painter went with the lineup I'm guessing he'll start this season with.

The Opening Tip-off Starting Five:

  • Johnny Hill, G
  • Rapheal Davis, G
  • Dakota Mathias, F
  • Vince Edwards, F
  • A. J. Hammons, C
You can throw Thompson in this lineup for Hill, and it won't change a whole bunch. I think Painter will want to see the transfer with this group to start off with. His length and athleticism will have a lot of value going forward and Thompson is a more known commodity with a lot of limitations.

This means no biggie. I don't think this will be a similar situation to last year. Painter used the freshman class last year to wipe away the few years prior. He wanted to use them as a clean slate and get rid of the taste in all our mouths from the Johnson years, but this year he'll want to built on last year's great finish.

Also, there's just not enough spacing if you take Mathias out and slide Edwards to the three with Swanigan and Hammons manning the middle. Edwards becomes the only three point shooter in that lineup, and he was barely above thirty percent from there last year.

Painter will want to give Swanigan some motivation early on, and to be honest, Mathias earned that starting spot last year. Our 2 thru 4 will be able to switch everything on defense. As a caveat, bringing Swanigan off the bench will allow for Mackey to give him the proper hello when he first steps onto the court.

I don't think this will be the lineup we end with, but it's likely how we start. With this many pieces it's gonna take a steady hand to make the picture we want. Luckily, we've already got the corners in place.